Train yourself to act properly
One day while waiting for the Skytrain at Victory Monument station, with everyone queuing in two lines, a man rushed in and stood at the exact spot where the doors of the train were supposed to open. Once the train approached the platform, the doors opened and passengers from inside started to get off. When the man was about to step in, a good-looking guy who also stood in line told him quite politely: “Why don’t you queue up? Go get in the line!” The second part of his sentence sounded commanding. The man then bowed his head in shame and walked slowly to the end of the line.
It was definitely a thumbs-up to the good-looking guy. Even I admired him. But this was not the first time I have come across line-cutting moments. We have all had experiences of people cutting queues. Such impolite behaviour is likely to occur any time and anywhere — mass transportation services, bus stations, supermarkets, to name a few. The common reaction we see from most is to look at the person or do nothing. It can be assumed that we want to avoid a fight and don’t want to cause trouble. However, this does not mean that line-cutting is acceptable.
A friend of mine who is a regular commuter on the BTS once told me about ma-nut pa, literally the “auntie species”. It was the first I had heard of this weird concept. He explained that ma-nut pa means women aged around 40-50 years old who don’t care about existing queues. They just rush through the door of a bus, train or van. On public transport such as the Skytrain, ma-nut pa sometimes skim very quickly for an empty seat and swiftly move themselves to take it, no matter how far away it might be. Now, I don’t mind women aged over 50 rushing to vacant seats, as it’s probably because of their health conditions. They might not have the physical strength to stand for a long time, for example. However, I don’t think it’s fair to label only a specific group as ma-nut pa, because I regularly see people of all ages and genders behave incongruously in public places.
Recently, when I was applying for a visa at an embassy, I observed a group of seemingly well-educated, 20-something girls. We are all aware that we have to be at an embassy early for visa applications. Everyone was queuing in a long line. I was somewhere in the middle. In front of me were two pretty girls, with 15-20 people behind me.
After waiting for about half an hour, a fashionably dressed girl, a friend of the other two, arrived. The girls greeted each other, the newcomer saying she’d woken up late. They giggled and she sneaked herself into the line. Seeing this, I told her she should queue up. The group barely looked up and the girl mimicked my words as she walked to the end of the line. With such behaviour, can these young girls be identified as ma-nut pa? I think yes.
And it’s not just line-cutting. A scene of socially inappropriate manners can almost always be seen at any public service spot. Nearly every day on the MRT or the BTS we witness someone leaning on the poles inside the train car. If the train is
fairly empty, this is fine. But during rush hour, when it is crowded, if one person leans on those poles, it causes trouble for others, as they have nothing to hold to prevent themselves from falling when the train is moving.
One of my colleagues complained that some people don’t wait for other passengers to disembark and instead rush in as soon as the doors open. Of course, the subway and Skytrain have no signs educating passengers in terms of manners. But in this case, I think that it’s all about common sense. You must just wait for other passengers to get off the train before you get on.
In any public place, if we respect others, keeping in mind that they belong to and are shared by everyone, we can definitely turn annoying behaviours into pleasing moments.
Sasiwimon Boonruang is a writer for the Bangkok Post’s Life section.
Writer for the Life section
Sasiwimon Boonruang is a writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.